Leadership Corner

Hispanic Americans: A History of serving our nation

National Hispanic Heritage Month 2019
September 18th, 2019 at 11:33AM
Photo: Ariel Lugo speaking at a podium
Ariel E. Lugo, director of the USDA Forest Service International Institute for Tropical Forestry, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico.

Hispanic Americans have helped shape our country in so many ways. They have served in the Armed Forces and given their lives to protect ours. Hispanic artists have enriched our lives with their many contributions to our culture.  Hispanic sportsmen and women have inspired generations of fans. Hispanics also have a strong history as conservation leaders. In Puerto Rico, Hispanic Forest Service employees, such as José Marrero in the 1950s and ‘60s, invented Caribbean Tropical Forestry and helped rehabilitate degraded lands that were slowing down our economic situation and well-being. Hispanics are connected to the land and value and protect our natural resources.

National Hispanic Heritage Month commemorates Americans with ancestry from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Starting as a week of observance in 1968, it was extended in 1988 to span a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The independence anniversary for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—is September 15. Belize, Chile and Mexico celebrate their independence later in the month.

The National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers announced this year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage month: “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation.” The theme was submitted by Veronica Vasquez, President of National Image Inc., an organization dedicated to promoting Hispanic employment in the federal government through training, leadership development, education, and the advancement of civil rights for all.

The USDA Forest Service values the skills, ethics, and passion that Hispanic Americans bring to the agency. Through our agency core value of diversity the Forest Service champions a strong and diverse workforce comprised of many cultures, ideas, and perspectives that reflect the communities of people it serves. Recognizing the interdependence between our agency and the American public, the Forest Service credits the vast number of Hispanic American employees who have dedicated years of service to connecting people to their public lands. Through continued outreach efforts with schools and universities, along with programs and activities that facilitate an appreciation of land stewardship, the Forest Service remains invested in building enduring relationships that engage Hispanic communities with the natural world.

We celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to reflect on how contributions from the Hispanic community have helped to shape the past, present, and future of our country. From national defense to space exploration, from conducting scientific research to providing public service, from the study of law to the arts, literature and everything in between, the Hispanic community is firmly woven into the rich fabric of American culture.

HHM poster